Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro’s death has prompted a myriad of reactions. The Communist leader ruled the island nation for nearly five decades. His rule has been marked by oppression, political imprisonment, and other human rights violations.
People’s perception on the leader differ; some believe that he “gave Cuba back to the people.” Others viewed him as a brutal tyrant who murdered tens of thousands of people.
Both the current President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump have commented on the death of Fidel Castro. Their comments reflected differing points of view and could indicate how the Trump administration’s approach to Cuba might diverge from the previous administration’s.
President Obama’s Response
Hours after the death of Fidel Castro was announced by his brother, Raoul Castro, President Barack Obama made the following statement:
“We know that this moment fills Cubans — in Cuba and in the United States — with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”
One of the main priorities of Obama’s second term has been to repair the relationship between the United States and Cuba. Last year, he became the first U.S. President to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. He has also restored diplomatic relations with the country and reopened an embassy in Havana.
Fidel Castro criticized the new relationship. Shortly after Obama’s visit, Castro wrote the following:
“We don’t need the empire to give us anything,”
He went on to write that Obama should reflect on rather than develop theories about Cuban politics.
Donald Trump’s Reaction
President-elect Donald Trump’s reaction was markedly different from Obama’s. In a statement released on November 26th, he said:
“Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights. While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve”.
Mr. Trump also expressed his hope that Cubans could move towards a freer future. During his campaign, Mr. Trump was highly critical of President Obama’s policy toward Cuba. However, he has not yet indicated whether or not he would reverse this policy.
Other reactions to the dictator’s death are mixed. According to the New York Times, Miami’s Cuban-American community is celebrating Castro’s death. They took to the streets and sang the Cuban national anthem and waved the Cuban flag.
In Cuba, many have expressed their grief at their leader’s death. Some shed tears and wished him well. Martin Castro, Fidel’s half brother has been receiving numerous phone calls and knocks on his door asking if the news of Fidel’s death are true. Many are expressing their condolences.
Both Fidel Castro’s supporters and detractors do have one thing in common: both are want to know what this means for the future of Cuba.